Philadelphia roller skaters give community activity a new twist

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WPVI) – India Bernardino has been surrounded by roller skates all of her life thanks to her father’s generation before her. But it wasn’t until her great-grandmother passed away that she herself found solace in the hobby.

“Skating really helped me and I saw skating bring other people who were really, really depressed,” she said.

It is a tradition in the Bernardino community to celebrate the life of a lost loved one, perhaps by visiting the ice rink. Thus, she founded “Great on Skates” to involve more people in the art of roller skating, which is several generations old.

Bernardino merged hip-hop dance and skating to create a unique artistic team. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, they invited all walks of life to join a skating training class every week.

“There was a tough time when the pandemic first occurred that even when we used to go, like tennis and skating courts, or basketball courts, they were all closed, ”Bernardino said. “We felt like we were closed.”

Instead, she rounded up her best skating partners to enjoy outdoor spaces like Lloyd Hall on Boathouse Row and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

At the same time, Jaquanay Macklin was looking for an outdoor space to learn rollerblading.

“We started skating in our apartment,” she said. Macklin and her friend skated to Paine’s Park on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where they noticed that one or two skaters were coming off the street.

“We should start a group for new beginner skaters in Philly,” she said. Today, “Skateadelphia” is working to invite more newcomers to make Philadelphia their own outdoor rink.

“We have a little bit of following up and we love it,” Macklin said. She believes the growing interest in skating after the New Year will help save local rinks threatened with closure due to the pandemic.

To learn more about Great on Skates or Skateadelphia, visit their Instagram pages.

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